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Michael Jackson sales, R. Kelly airplay both up amid sex abuse controversies

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 31, 1993, US pop megastar Michael Jackson performs during his "Dangerous" tour in Singapore. - Major radio stations in Quebec have pulled Michael Jackson music from the airwaves following a disturbing documentary reviving pedophilia accusations against the late performer, a representative told AFP on March 5, 2019. A spokeswoman for Canada's Cogeco -- which operates 22 radio stations across Quebec and one in Ontario -- said the decision came after "Leaving Neverland" aired Sunday on the US cable network HBO. (Photo by STR / AFP)STR/AFP/Getty Images

Will fans still listen to Michael Jackson?

That’s the question many people asked following last week’s premiere of “Leaving Neverland,” HBO’s contentious documentary that revisits past allegations of child sexual abuse against the late King of Pop.

So far, the deafening backlash to the film by Jackson’s estate and diehard fans appears to have boosted his catalog: In the past week, the “Billie Jean” singer has posthumously sold 6,000 albums and 13,000 song downloads, according to Nielsen Music (a slight increase from 5,000 and 12,000 the week before, respectively).

On streaming services, Jackson’s music has also seen a minor uptick, with streams of his songs jumping nearly 300,000 to 16.5 million last week. His videos were viewed 22.1 million times (an increase of roughly 1.2 million from the week prior).

The sales lift isn’t quite as dramatic as the week following Jackson’s 2005 trial, when he was found not guilty of sexually abusing 13-year-old Jordan Chandler. Sales of his “Greatest Hits – History, Vol. 1” album spiked 182 percent, while sales of 1982 album “Thriller” jumped 142 percent.

But on radio, Jackson’s music has taken a hit. Last week, his catalog received 10,981 plays on U.S. stations – down 21 percent from 13,839 plays the week before. Radio stations in Canada, New Zealand and Australia have reported removing his songs from their airwaves, although no stations stateside have announced similar bans yet.

One artist who still has the support of radio despite controversy is R. Kelly, whose airplay jumped 71 percent to 149 total plays last week. The R&B singer made headlines Wednesday for his explosive interview with Gayle King and subsequent arrest hours later for failing to pay overdue child support.

His videos got a slick uptick with 9.5 million views (up 3 percent), while his song streams and downloads fell 1 percent and 16 percent, respectively. His album sales (1,000 copies moved) remained consistent both weeks.

Read more at usatoday.com.

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